Education Blog for Healthcare Professionals

Blood or Organ Donation: The Patient on Anticoagulants or with Thrombophillia

A patient may ask:  “I am on warfarin – can I donate blood?”  Your answer:  “No”.  A person on an anticoagulant will not be accepted as a blood donor because of the risk of bleeding to him/her during the donation phlebotomy, which uses a relatively large bore needle.  However, patients on aspirin or any other anti-platelet drug are eligible to donate blood.

The Potential Donor With Thrombophilia

Individuals with factor V Leiden or any other thrombophilia who are NOT on anticoagulants can donate blood, platelets, or blood plasma  without problems.

Red Cross Guidelines

The Red Cross eligibility guidelines can be found in detail here.  The essentials of these policies:

  • Aspirin:  A person can donate blood and plasma while on aspirin.  However, for platelet donation (by apheresis): wait 48 hours after taking aspirin or any medication containing aspirin before donating.
  • Plavix® (Clopidogrel): A person can donate blood while on Plavix®.  However, for platelet donation (by apheresis): wait 14 days after taking Plavix® before donating.
  • Anticoagulants: A person should not donate.  If a person discontinues the anticoagulant,  he/she should wait 7 days before returning to donate.

Organ Donation

Individuals with thrombophilias are not excluded from being organ donors and should, in my opinion, be donors.  There are only few absolute exclusions (such as HIV infection or active cancer), but thrombophilias are not exclusion criteria (link here).  There are some special circumstances that warrant discussion between a patient with thrombophilia and his/her health care provider:

  • The donor who has a thrombophilia would pass the thrombophilia on in the case of a liver donation (as the coagulation factors are made in the liver).  However, this likely will not be of any clinical relevance, except possibly in the  case of a strong thrombophilia (such as antithrombin deficiency, protein C deficiency, homozygous factor V Leiden, or a combination of having both factor V Leiden and the prothrombin 20210 mutation at the same time, i.e. the double heterozygous state).
  • Organ transplantation from a donor who has a mild thrombophilia (such as heterozygous factor V Leiden or heterozygous prothrombin 20210 mutation) would, in the majority of cases, not cause any negative effects on the recipient.

Last updated:  Oct 12th, 2011

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